Being a new father involves more changes then I had ever suspected. When I was single I made plans, I did them, and that was that. When I got married, that changed quite a bit, but I still could pretty well count on being able to do my own thing whenever I wanted without much trouble.
Then I had a kid.
I knew it was coming. I knew that everything would change. I didn’t know how much my inner self would grate against it. I’m an introvert. I like being alone regularly to do my own thing. I like being able to hide in a room and be alone with my thoughts. I’m also fiercely independent. I like being able to go do something freely without having to answer to anyone or be asked questions.
Suddenly there is a little tyrant in my house just waiting for the most inopportune time to scream, puke, poop, or be overwhelmingly cute. I mean seriously, I’m about to level up on my game here, stop smiling so much!
I talked with Joy about my feelings last night. She expressed a desire to be part of my dreams. I thought she already was since we were married. Then I realized that what she wanted was to be a part of the things I do for entertainment, she wants a part in the hopes I have for future activities. For example, I want to build a kayak. I’m really excited about it. She tries hard to be supportive of that dream, but to her it is exclusive. To her it means that I will be busy away from the family building a boat that only I can use. To her it means separation.
That is the farthest thing from what I had intended. I saw it as a way to fill my extra time in a productive manner that creates something that the whole family could eventually enjoy. I even thought that I could involve the kids in making more kayaks for them to enjoy as well.
So where is the meeting point? How do I still find the time to enjoy my hobbies, and have time alone and yet still involve Joy in my life? How do I make my child a priority and spend time with them and not lose my own sense of identity, my independence? Are such things even possible in a family? Am I deluding myself into thinking that I even need those things?
I know in my head that my wife and child are the greatest adventure I will ever live. How can I make that my identity? Will I choose to isolate in order to preserve whatever I thought was my “self.” Or can I find an healthy outlet for my need for isolation while still being available to and involved in my family?